panels in a few clicks

Tensile fabric structure designers can now have a complete set of tools, running in industry standard CAD software, AutoCAD® or Rhinoceros®.

MPanel is our flagship product and works inside AutoCAD . MPanel software runs in many older versions of AutoCAD, releases 14 through to 2016, so you don’t have to buy the latest AutoCAD version to use our MPanel products!

MPanel-R is the identical product to, MPanel, except that it works as an add on toolbar inside Rhino 4 or 5.

MPanel and MPanel-R, incorporate a set of design tools into a user friendly interface to assist tensile fabric structure designers. MPanel works inside AutoCAD or Rhino as a floating tool bar, and manipulates your CAD drawing from the initial relaxation of a mesh to the final production panels for you to send to your plotter or cutter.

MPanel was developed to assist tensile fabric structure designers, but works equally well on other projects, such as tents, awnings, exhibition stands, and inflatable structures.

The MPanel add-on toolbar works with AutoCAD and Rhino, so there is no need to learn a complete new CAD environment. We let you leverage your CAD skills, so you are up and running with MPanel in a very short time.

MPanel Toolbar

MPanel Getting Started

The drawings below can be downloaded to your computer and looked at in your CAD package. These drawings illustrate some of the basic uses of MPanel.

Tutorial Files Summary Thumbnail
Standard Tutorial AutoCAD
Rhino
The standard tutorial for learning MPanel, as shipped on demo CD’s. Consists of a starter drawing, with prototype structures, a MS Word document to describe the operations needed to complete the drawing, and a copy of the finished drawing. barrel
Ten Steps to an MPanel Project AutoCAD
Rhino
A step by step tutorial showing how to design a cone tent using MPanel. cone tent
Formfinding Options AutoCAD Deciding on which relaxation method to use is sometimes confusing. This tutorial shows the difference between Fixed Edge, Cable Edge, and Joined Edge relaxations. fixed cable

MPanel Formfinding

Follow the links to download a zip file containing the drawing in AutoCAD or Rhino

Tutorial Files Summary Thumbnail
Fixed Edge Sail AutoCAD
Rhino
Shows a method to design a sail structure with one fixed edge and 3 catenary edges. panels
Fixed Edge Cone AutoCAD
Rhino
How to design a cone tent with fixed edges. Illustrates how to use MPanel to fix the eaves on a double cone tent structure. paneling
Change Mesh Density AutoCAD
Rhino
Shows mesh density being changed to refine a cone tent. Change Mesh Density can be a great time saver, allowing the initial design to be drawn out with very coarse meshes that require little construction time and allow MPanel to relax the forms quickly. When the design is further along the meshes can be increased in density and then re-relaxed, to obtain a high definition drawing. seams
Square Sail Droop Control AutoCAD
Rhino
Looks at the problems of adjusting the droop of a square sail with high/low points. There is a peculiarity of an exactly square sail on a symmetrical frame, that adjusting the weft/warp ratio does not adjust the droop of the sail. This drawing explains that issue, and offers a solution to the problem. paneling
Embedded Cables AutoCAD
Rhino
How to use embedded cables to carry some of the loads in a cone tent design. formfinding
Half Dome Awning AutoCAD
Rhino
Creating an awning cover with some double curvature on a half dome. Framed structures, which are sometimes made without double curvature, benefit in strength and rigidity if they are designed with double curvature. This drawing illustrates working over a simple entry way awning. panels
Cable Structures AutoCAD
Rhino
Looks at designing cable reinforced structures as an alternative to stressed skin structures using MPanel. paneling

MPanel Paneling

Follow the link to download a zip file containing the drawing in AutoCAD or Rhino

Tutorial Files Summary Thumbnail
Standard Panel Handling AutoCAD
Rhino
Shows the standard panel handling used by MPanel to take a set of panels from the 3D model, into panels with compensation, seams, and production annotation. paneling
Paneling Using Cross Sections AutoCAD
Rhino
Shows making panels by using cross sections, which gives complete control over seam placement and panel widths. paneling
Seam Allowances AutoCAD
Rhino
MPanel allows different types of seam allowances, depending on your assembly method. This tutorial describes how to apply those seam allowances. paneling
Geodesic Seams AutoCAD
Rhino
Creating geodesic seams on a saddle tent. Geodesic seams are often used to minimize seam lengths and create substantially rectangular panels. MPanel can create geodesic seams from any boundary points over any number of meshes, and can then turn the seam lines into a new mesh, to ease paneling. paneling
Specified Width Panels AutoCAD
Rhino
How to make panels of a specified width. Illustrates working from a geometrically fixed seam to produce a series of specified width panels. paneling
Merging Panels AutoCAD
Rhino
Looks at the issues involved in merging panels, and shows how the shearing error occurs. Merging is a powerful technique for joining panels together and achieving panel end curvature, but it has implications in the way the fabric stress relaxes that need to be understood. This drawing illustrates those issues for a simple hoop structure. paneling
Diagonal Seams AutoCAD
Rhino
Creates a set of panels running diagonally on a square sail. Diagonal seams are required for aesthetic or structural reasons, and MPanel can create them nicely, although there are difficulties with the corner triangular panels. This drawing illustrates the process. paneling
Calculating Compensation pdf_small This pdf explains the procedure for calculating the compensation on panels.

MPanel Advanced

Tutorial Files Summary Thumbnail
Deep Catenary AutoCAD
Rhino
Deep catenaries can be used for entrance arches, shade tents, sculptural effects, etc. This drawing shows how to develop deep catenaries without running into meshing problems. Advanced Tutorial image
Advanced Cone Tent AutoCAD
Rhino
Shows how to build up a cone tent based on an outline frame, with different mesh MSurf on individual meshes. This is needed if the cone tent perimeter shape is irregular, to keep an even mesh density. Advanced Tutorial image
Single Sheet Modeling AutoCAD The method of modeling using a single sheet over several constraints. This was an earlier modeling technique, used before the capability to relax multiple meshes arrived. For some fabric shapes it is difficult to think of a reasonable multiple set of meshes to define the structure, and so this drawing details the old method. Advanced Tutorial image
Modular Tent AutoCAD
Rhino
How to design a modular structure, so that you can add any number of central sections to create different length designs. Advanced Tutorial image
Advanced Compensation AutoCAD Ordinary compensation or shrink methods work for most situations, but MPanel’s compensation can be tailored to fit special circumstances. This drawing illustrates methods for variable compensation, partial decompensation, and changing compensation across the panel. Advanced Tutorial image
Natural Pole Angle AutoCAD Illustrates the method to find the natural top ring position and pole angle for a cone tent. Uses a structure of links to allow top ring to relax to it’s natural position. Advanced Tutorial image/td>
Stress Estimation AutoCAD Imp
ACAD Metric
Rhino IMP
Rhino Metric
A basic introduction to stress estimation in a cone tent example. Covers membrane stress variations, cable loads and anchor loads. Advanced Tutorial image
Inflated Structures AutoCAD MPanel has a limited capability to handle inflated structures. This drawing illustrates that capability. Advanced Tutorial image
Design Checklist AutoCAD
Rhino
When you have completed your design, you might want to go through these steps to help avoid any errors. This is also a useful reference page when you are having problems manipulating your designs with MPanel.
Using Links AutoCAD This drawing will explore using link models with MPanel.  Links can be Guys, that try to maintain their length, or cable links, that maintain fixed tension Advanced Tutorial image
Determining Pre-Stress AutoCAD Imp
ACAD Metric
This example takes a simple shape and shows how the fabric stress is affected by wind and snow loads. It provides an estimate of the required fabric pre-stress, and so provides the information needed to detect a suitable material. Advanced Tutorial image